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Bond Does Disco

Arnold was steered towards Tomorrow Never Dies by the Luton Royal British Legion children’s Christmas party. “I was six or seven. We’d had the jelly, and we’d run around jumping on people. Then a screen was put up, and they showed You Only Live Twice. God knows why anyone would choose to show that at a kids’ party, but it took my head off completely! I just thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.…”

Some 30 years and 15 sequels later, Arnold felt GoldenEye had strayed from the series’ all-important “brash swagger”. “But now that attitude is back in a big way. With GoldenEye, they were in favour of updating the whole thing – which can be disastrous. It’s like, ‘Why not give Bond a motorbike and a moustache?’ Some things you don’t mess around with – and the music is one of those. I’m not exactly going back to the ’60s, but I’m not running away from any of [Bond composer] John Barry’s original work either. I’m tipping my hat to it on numerous occasions, because it’s what it needs. I’m doing his style with new melodies. My themes are part ’60s/part ’90s. It’s metal-tip winklepickers, loafers with steel toe-caps, iconographic cool from the ’60s.”

Long before the film was greenlighted, Arnold had been working on Shaken And Stirred – a ’90s beef-up of his favourite Bond theme songs. At the same time, a contractual problem meant John Barry couldn’t do the new film. “The studio knew I was making this other album and I guess they figured I was someone who knew a lot about Bond, and John Barry said he thought I was the one person who could do it – that from the guvnor!”

 

Permission granted and blessing given, the real test was that first recording session. “It was kind of nerve-racking –the director flew back from Thailand a day early. Everybody was in the control room, all stony-faced, but it went down a storm. I’ve never done a film where they didn’t ask for any changes at all. We did one cue and everyone was giving me the thumbs-up.”

As for the opening credits’ kd lang song (co-written with Don Black), he’s again self-effacing. “It’s pretty stupidly obvious, but the lyrics are good. At the end of the day, I’m just doing this as a fan – how I’d like to hear it. There’s 35 years of expectation and legacy, probably the biggest musical franchise ever. I don’t want to see it pissed away.”

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